MAY 17, 2013
Less than a year after the Obama administration’s own lawyers determined Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could be fired for violating federal law, she’s embroiled in another scandal for unscrupulously soliciting money from healthcare companies to fund Obamacare.
Sebelius should have been dismissed for last year’s transgression, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which issued a scathing report outlining how the Health Secretary violated the Hatch Act by participating in political campaigning in her official capacity. Sebelius publicly endorsed President Obama’s reelection during a taxpayer-funded public event and the Hatch Act specifically prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election.
Shamefully, Sebelius became the first member of a president’s cabinet to be found guilty of violating the Hatch Act, earning a spot on Judicial Watch’s 2012 Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians list. Now JW is investigating her recent lapse, which involves hitting healthcare companies up for cash to fund Obamacare after Congress repeatedly rejected the administration’s requests for additional funds. JW has filed public records requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain documents related to the scandal.
The mainstream newspaper that broke the story earlier this month calls it an “unusual fundraising push” in which Sebelius has asked health industry officials to “make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark healthcare law.” Federal regulations don’t allow department officials like the nation’s Health Secretary to fundraise in their official capacity but they do allow cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens if it doesn’t involve a subordinate or a company seeking business with the agency they head.
A growing number of lawmakers are expressing outrage, claiming that Sebelius is essentially pressuring private companies to support the president’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. This week several members of the House requested a congressional probe, saying that “the Secretary’s actions show an apparent disregard for constitutional principles and may violate the Antideficiency Act, the prohibition against augmenting congressional appropriations, and executive branch ethics laws.”
The ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate committee that oversees health policy, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, compares this to Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal in which an administration official raised private funds to support Nicaraguan rebels after Congress had refused to appropriate money for the cause. Additionally, Sebelius’s “fundraising activities may violate federal laws prohibiting raising private funds from those she regulates,” Senator Alexander says.
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